As in the first two books of the series, this one limps along at a less than rapid pace, despite being rife with godly possession, swapped body parts, mechanical soldiers, and one priestly space vampire. It was in this book I began to notice Wolfe's need to have his characters talk and talk about what they know (or think they know) and how they came to know it, as well as his tendency to skip important events only to have his characters talk about them later. This is all fine and good, and is all part of that unique Wolfe atmosphere, which is one part 'huh?' and two parts 'WTF?!' I still believe the encompassing story of the Whorl, the "gods" who created it, and where it's going are the hooks in this series. But given its size (over 1400 pages), at each long-winded conversation I couldn't shake the feeling that Wolfe's characters were being paid by the word.